Born in Kent in 1951, Matt has been playing guitar since 1965, fiddle since 1983 and pipes since 1991, starting with Scottish Smallpipes and transferring to Border Pipes in 1995. He played many types of music before concentrating on traditional music, which has been his focus for the last twenty years. In this time he has gained a reputation as an expert on Border and Northumbrian pipe and fiddle music. His own compositions have been recorded by musicians as diverse as Scottish lutenist Rob MacKillop and Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell, and he is one of the few pipers to play on one of Kathryn's own CDs. He has edited and published several music books, recorded two CDs of his own, two as a member of the Border Directors, and guested on many more. Matt lived in Northumberland for 14 years from 1984, moving to the Scottish Borders in 1998, and now plays regularly on both sides of the Tweed.
The bellows-blown Border Pipes (a.k.a. Lowland Pipes and Northumberland Half-long Pipes) were played in Lowland Scotland, the Borders and Northern England in the 18th century and successfully revived in the 1980s and 90s.
Quieter and sweeter-sounding than Highland Pipes but with a stronger tone than either Scottish or Northumbrian Smallpipes, Border Pipes have their own repertoire of music from both sides of the Border, from sprightly dance tunes to soulful slow airs.
Matt Seattle - Border Piper
In 2003 Matt was the first piper to gain first place in all four of the main Open competitions for solo Border Pipes: Lowland and Border Pipers' Society (Edinburgh); Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering; Rothbury Traditional Music Festival; Northumbrian Pipers' Society (Morpeth).
He has been a featured performer at many festivals (Alnwick, Coldstream, Edinburgh Fringe, Fyvie, Kelso, Melrose, Morpeth, Peebles, Portpatrick) and piping events (Bagpipe Society, Northumbrian Pipers' Society, Armagh Pipers' Club, Lowland and Border Pipers' Society, North Hero Pipers' Gathering USA).
He is an Honorary Life Member of the Northumbrian Pipers' Society, and probably the Border Piper heard by most people in the UK (see Lindisfarne in the Sheet Music section).
Matt has researched and published two influential books of Border pipe music, The Master Piper (1995, reprinted 2002) being an edition of the William Dixon manuscript of 1733, the oldest-known substantial collection of bagpipe music from the British Isles.
"It really does seem, when one hears his playing, that the two loose ends of a piping tradition have been picked up and tied together again so that they are an unbroken thread once more."
William Marshall, Bagpipe Society